June 20, 2017
Leave Mountain People Alone
We have over 4,000 years of recorded history of human conflict. As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has noted “There is nothing new under the sun.” And from this wealth of experience, a number of rules of thumb for military operations have evolved. Perhaps the most famous is “Don’t get in a land war in Asia.” Interestingly, I have never seen a similarly obvious rule – “Leave mountain people alone.” Yet even a brief historical survey shows that campaigns against mountain people rarely pay off. Afghans, Chechens, Kurds, Montagnards (which literally means “mountain people” in French), Scots, Welsh, Swiss, Druze, Maronite Christians, and West Virginians have all repeatedly seen off outsiders.